I just returned from an 11-day cruise on the Radisson Paul Gauguin, and found it to be the most disappointing cruise I have taken. After an absolutely magical Mediterranean cruise last summer on the Celebrity Galaxy, my family (myself, my husband, and my kids, ages 19 and 24) wanted to do an even more special cruise. For this reason, I decided to investigate the more expensive, upper tier cruises, and we decided to go to French Polynesia, based on the overall allure of the area and the wonderful reviews we had read about the Radisson Paul Gauguin. Because we had such a great time the previous summer, we decided to do another 11-day cruise, and we took 2 full weeks, staying in Papeete before and after the cruise.
So here is the bottom line - 11 days is too long for a cruise in Polynesia on a boat that has much more limited activities and public spaces than the bigger cruise lines. In contrast to our previous Celebrity cruises (Galaxy in the Mediterranean and Constellation in the Caribbean), there was only a very small swimming pool, in full sun, and very little shade to be found on the deck. There were no jacuzzis, no whirpools, and the fitness room and sauna were small and not nearly as pleasant on the Celebrity cruises. The food on the ship was amazing, and the rooms were very nice, but altogether, we found it very, very dull. I realize that we had high expectations of the ship, since the cruise cost about twice as much as our previous cruises, and it just doesn't offer what we had experienced previously on the bigger ships. My kids found the whole experience very dull. I think that if we had gone on a 7-day cruise, it would have been a better experience, since we would have avoided the almost 3 full days on the ship with not much to do. We ended up playing endless games of poker and even resorted to gin rummy - we can do this at home, not on a luxury cruise in Polynesia!
I also wish that Radisson had planned the overall itinerary better. We ended up on the Marquesa islands on Sunday and Monday, which were not idea. On Sunday, people were wondering why they even went to the island from the boat, since everything was closed, including the Paul Gauguin cultural center which we were very interested in seeing. We did an excursion on every island, but the excursions did not fill the day, and we found ourselves back on the boat with no shade and one tiny swimming pool that was not very appealing.
Papeete was also dull, with everything closed up tight from Saturday at noon and Sunday, and the Radisson Plaza hotel, while on a beautiful bay, was also lacking. We had no air conditioning in our room, as it broke down after running for a couple of hours, there was only one restaurant with very mediocre service, and the jacuzzi was taped off for repairs.
We have decided we would go back to Tahiti to spend time on Bora Bora and Moorea - fabulously beautiful places, with amazing water and lovely resorts. But for a really wonderful vacation with sightseeing and new experiences, don't go to Tahiti - there's just not much to do there. And for young people (teenagers and young adults) this is definitely not the right cruise. My kids are not interested in the types of activities offered by RCI and some of the other cruise lines (rock climbing walls, etc), but a larger boat, with more bars, lounges, swimming pools, jacuzzis, saunas and a bigger whirpool would be a better choice.